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Murine Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Hepatic Progenitor Cells Engraft in Recipient Livers With Limited Capacity of Liver Tissue Formation

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Directed endodermal differentiation of murine embryonic stem (ES) cells gives rise to a subset of cells with a hepatic phenotype. Such ES cell-derived hepatic progenitor cells (ES-HPC) can acquire features of hepatocytes in vitro, but fail to form substantial hepatocyte clusters in vivo. In this study, we investigated whether this is due to inefficient engraftment or an immature phenotype of ES-HPC. ES cells engrafted into recipient livers of NOD/SCID mice with a similar efficacy as adult hepatocytes after 28 days. Because transplanted unpurified ES-HPC formed teratomas in the spleen and liver, we applied an albumin promoter/enhancer-driven reporter system to purify ES-HPC by cell sorting. RT-PCR analyses for hepatocyte-specific genes showed that the cells exhibited a hepatic phenotype, lacking the expression of the pluripotency marker Oct4, comparable to cells of day 11.5 embryos. Sorted ES-HPC derived from -galactosidase transgenic ES cells were injected into fumaryl-acetoacetate-deficient (FAH−/−) SCID mice and analyzed after 8 to 12 weeks. Staining with X-gal solution revealed the presence of engrafted cells throughout the liver. However, immunostaining for the FAH protein indicated hepatocyte formation at a very low frequency, without evidence for large hepatocyte cluster formation. In conclusion, the limited repopulation capacity of ES-HPC is not caused by a failure of primary engraftment, but may be due to an immature hepatic phenotype of the transplanted ES-HPC.
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Keywords: Cell transplantation; Embryonic stem cells; Hepatic precursor cells; Metabolic liver disease

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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